By Niyi Aderibigbe
VENTURES AFRICA – Andela, a New York City-based talent accelerator has marked its official launch with a seed round of funding to train developers in Africa.
The startup, which is dedicated to eliminating the global skills gap recognizes that while aptitude is evenly distributed, opportunity is not.
“With the fastest growing and youngest population in the world, Africa is the largest market of untapped talent. Our goal is to tap into this brilliance to bring the world’s brightest minds to firms looking for quality developers,” said Jeremy Johnson, co-founder and CEO of Andela.
A serial education technology entrepreneur and co-founder of 2U, Johnson said the support currently being enjoyed by several seasoned investors attests to the value Andela is capable of bringing partners, including U.S. and European technology and service companies.
Chris Hughes, owner and publisher of The New Republic and Facebook co-founder, who is also an investor in the seed round, also acknowledged the stress technology firms go through while trying to find the skills they need. “Andela promises to give companies access to previously untapped talent while creating an on-ramp to the digital economy for brilliant young people,” Hughes said.
The company, which has been in private (closed) beta since June, connects world-class developers it produces with top employers globally. Coders in Nigeria’s commercial and tech hub Lagos were the first to enjoy Andela’s training. 5,200 applicants competed for the first 28 slots (an acceptance rate of 0.53 percent) for Andela’s inaugural class of developers. The first class which was taught by senior developers in Lagos boasts of 100 percent retention rates and were paid $500 monthly stipend during the program.
As Andela Fellows, students complement their studies with work as remote developers for tech companies during the four-year program. They learn the MEAN stack (Mongo.db, Express, Angular and Node.js) through a combination of individual work and projects in groups of 2-6 students.
Andela coders undergo ongoing professional development and have a minimum of 1,000 hours of coding experience, which is largely responsible for their quality.
“The caliber of talent at Andela ranks in the top 1 percent of all workers being assessed on our systems worldwide,” Neil MacGregor, CEO of Plum.io, an pre-employment assessment company, affirmed.
According to him, an Andela developer ranks among the brightest recruits anywhere.
Andela enjoys immense support from investors, including Steve Case, Omidyar Network, Founder Collective, Rothenberg Ventures, Learn Capital, Melo7 Tech Partners, and Chris Hughes. The size of the round is however undisclosed.
Johnson remains committed to training and mentorship of Africans to prepare them for full-time developers’ role for companies around the world.
He sees the program as a platform that could equip brilliant young African students with the developer skills essential for meeting high demand from tech companies.
“By valuing aptitude, motivation and grit over previous experience, we can connect companies looking for strong technical talent with top students,” the Andela CEO says, adding that, “When students are ready to work with companies, they’re extraordinary.”
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